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TV Review: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Casts a Spell

CHICAGO – Take this with a giant grain of salt but FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” shows incredible promise in its premiere episode tonight, setting a number of creative plates spinning in directions that could be fascinating. Why the salt? Well, “American Horror Story: Asylum” started with similar promise and quickly became cluttered and unfocused.

TV Review: NBC’s Struggles Continue with ‘Sean Saves the World,’ ‘Welcome to the Family’

CHICAGO – People often ask me why low-rated NBC shows like “Community” keep getting renewed (or how “Whitney” and “Up All Night” got a second season) and I often turn to a sports analogy — they have no one in the minor leagues to replace them.

TV Review: Rebel Wilson Brings Routine to TV for ‘Super Fun Night’

CHICAGO – It seems logical that Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealer from “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” would get her own sitcom. Logical, yes. A good idea, maybe not. Wilson’s “Super Fun Night,” premiering this evening on ABC at 8:30pm CST after “Modern Family,” is not yet super and not too much fun to start.

TV Review: NBC’s ‘Ironside’ is Worst New Drama of 2013

CHICAGO – As the TV world was bombarded by new shows last week, I heard a number of complaints about the new dramas and comedies. “Hostages” was too cliched. “The Blacklist” wasn’t believable. “SHIELD” wasn’t fun enough. “Lucky 7” was, well, just awful. People, those shows will look even better if you happen to stumble upon “Ironside,” premiering tomorrow night on NBC.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Hannibal’ is Best Drama on Network TV

Hannibal

CHICAGO – Has there ever been a network TV show more cinematic than “Hannibal”? Especially when one watches it commercial-free in “binge” format on the newly-released Blu-ray, one can even more distinctly appreciate the fact that the first season of Bryan Fuller’s incredible show, the best on network TV, plays like long film. Scratch that.

TV Review: CBS Misses Comedy Mark with ‘The Crazy Ones,’ ‘The Millers’

CHICAGO – There are very few recurring weak points in the CBS lineup. They’ve been dominating total viewers for years with mega-hits like “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.” But there is one thing they haven’t been able to figure out — something to partner with “TBBT.”

TV Review: NBC Has Likable Hit in ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’

The Michael J. Fox Show

CHICAGO – Seriously, if “The Michael J. Fox Show” doesn’t connect with NBC’s target audience, they might as well give up. Yes, the show could use a stronger lead-in but it pairs well with “Parenthood,” also returning tomorrow night, September 26, 2013, and it’s the most straight-up likable new sitcom of the season. The first episode is a bit rocky and overly self-referential but it settles in nicely over the next two and already looks like it could be on for years.

TV Review: James Caan Comes Home in ‘Back in the Game’

CHICAGO – From Archie Bunker to Frank Barone, TV has a long history of crotchety, irascible, borderline offensive fathers who really love their kids. To the long list, we can now add Terry Gannon (James Caan), the scene-stealer from ABC’s “Back in the Game,” premiering tonight, September 25, 2013 in a coveted time slot between the returns of “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”

TV Review: ABC Launches New Comedies ‘The Goldbergs,’ ‘Trophy Wife’

CHICAGO – It takes guts or stupidity to launch an entire night of new programing but that’s what ABC is attempting this evening, September 24, 2013. And they’re not even doing it consistently in terms of genre and quality. It starts strong with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and ends on a whimper with “Lucky 7.” In between?

TV Review: ‘Lucky 7’ Misses Chance to Win Creatively

Lucky 7

CHICAGO – “Lucky 7,” debuting tonight on ABC to end their practically unprecedented attempt at an entire night of new programming, is a case of concept over actual character. The creators of this inert drama think cluttering their storytelling with various subplots will make up for the fact that you just don’t care about any of them. It’s a case of quantity over quality and that never works. I could be wrong but this one’s high on my list of shows that could be cancelled before Christmas.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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